Saturday, 24 March 2012

Information Research Department - Notes and Quotes

"Atlee agreed, in 1948, to a major expansion of MI6 and the establishment of the Information Research Department (IRD), a 'black' propaganda unit aimed at destabilising the communists at home and abroad. It was set up by Christopher Mayhew, a Labour MP and former intelligence officer who eventually defected to the Liberals. The Foreign Office forced the BBC to broadcast IRD propaganda and it partially funded The Observer news service and Reuters. As late as 1962, the IRD was supplying right-wing trade unionists and Labour MPs with confidential information about left-wingers which was used by the Labour leadership for expelling them from the party."

Livingstone's Labour, Ken Livingstone, p48 1989

[Angleton]...authorised the use of many new CIA agents to penetrate British trade unions and a big expansion of the World Forum Features news agency, a CIA front with close links to the 'black' propaganda Information Research Department of British Intelligence."

Ibid p56

"...Bevin approved my proposal for an ideological offensive against Stalinism...Some lively meetings followed in the Foreign Office, establishing what came to be known as the Information Research Department (IRD)"

Time To Explain Christopher Mayhew, p108, 1987

"However, my aim was not to impress the committee, but to put officially on record anti-Stalinist propaganda material for worldwide dissemination by IRD. IRD's material, well-researched and authoritative, was now finding a ready market. We had representatives in all British embassies and high commissions abroad, who fed this material into friendly and receptive hands. At home, our journalists, trade union leaders and others, and was often used by the BBC's External Services. We also had developed close links with a syndication agency and various publishers."

ibid pp111-112

"The propaganda section was established with the innocuous name of the Information Research Department (IRD) and was to be funded by the secret vote in the same way as the security and intelligence services, MI5 and MI6 were."

War of the Black Heavens, Michael Nelson, p27, 1997

"By the mid-fifties the IRD had sixty staff, permanent and contract, in the Soviet section...During the Suez crisis of 1956 the IRD was converted into the Information Coordinating Executive under military command...There were BBC connections with the British intelligence"

Ibid p31

"It was not until 1947, after the Political Warfare Executive had been dismembered, that its value was realized belatedly; the government, therefore, reconstituted it as the Information Research Department (IRD) of the Foreign Office"

The Friends, Nigel West, p10, 1988

"Britain's principal instrument of propaganda, the euphemistically named Information Research Department, was closed in 1977..."

Games of Intelligence, Nigel West, p5, 1989

"Britain formerly had a counter-intelligence agency which operated in a semi-clandestine way under the cover name of the Information Research Department (IRD), and was set up by the Attlee Government, mainly to counter the activities of Communists"

The Secret Offensive, Chapman Pincher, p314, 1985

"For many years the Foreign Office operated hat as really a psychological warfare branch under the cover name of the Information Research Department (IRD). Its main purpose was to counter Soviet bloc propaganda and to disseminate information and disinformation to undermine communism in Britain and elsewhere, and particularly to expose Communist front organizations for what they are. Various journalists were recruited to work for the IRD, which was largely financed by the CIA. They used information supplied by IRD or produced their own."

Inside Story, Chapman Pincher, p175, 1978

"...and he (William Gausmann) assisted with the publicity for the distribution of a collection of anti-communist writings, The Curtain Falls, edited by Denis Healey and published by Ampersand, an imprint established and subsidised by the Foreign Office's secret Information Research Department, which specialized in grey and black propaganda"

Labour under the Marshall Plan, Anthony Carew, p129, 1987

"Re-christened IRD - the Information Research Department - Mayhew's organisation recruited Soviet emigres to compose anti-communist literature.
In time, the CIA came to provide most of IRD's funding for this psychological warfare. The Committee for a Free Europe and Radio Free Europe set a regular American pattern by being nominally the work of private foundations, but in fact backed by US intelligence. Clusters of British and US 'front' organisations - magazines, institutes, student and labour organisations - sprang up as a counterpart of Soviet-backed bodies. The BBC was once again dragooned into functioning as an arm of government; although it retained some journalistic independence, its broadcasts ere directed and funded by the Foreign Office, and its programme-makers were required to accept batches of undercover IRD material...
...IRD planted anti-communist tracts on journalists in Britain and abroad...Publishers were given grants to bring out books on anti-communist themes...To reliable trade unionists, secret anti-communist 'digests' of propaganda were circulated: in 1963, the veteran Labour right-winger Bessie Braddock could still boast of getting these publications, replete with warnings of 'Communist fronts' and subversive organisations.

The Wilson Plot, David Leigh, p8, 1988

"Before leaving The Economist, I had already , on contract, transformed a thick folder of IRD documents into a short book called Neo-Colonialism, published some months later by Bodley Head as one of a series of 'Background Books' edited by Stephen Watts"

Free Agent, Brian Crozier, p51, 1993

"After the document had been 'sanitised' by excision of secret material, i was allowed to take the scissored typescript home. The report formed the core of a further 'Background Book' with the same title as the Chatham House article. This one was yet another sequel in the series started with The Rebels"

Ibid p57

"...IRD had played an important role, by disseminating accurate Background papers on the CPGB, and on other Communist groups"

Ibid p102

"In 1978, the Guardian and the Observer carried detailed accounts of the life and death of IRD. The secret of IRD's real objectives had been kept for thirty years"

Ibid p120

"The department's second area of interest was moulding of domestic opinion in Britain. It used the anti-communist material created with government funds to aid right-wing social democrats within the Labour Party and the trade union movement"

British Intelligence and Covert Action, Jonathan Block and Patrick Fitzgerald, p90. 1983

"The staff of the Department were a strange mixture. Emigres, such as those from Czechoslovakia, featured prominently: many were the flotsam of failed intelligence operations. Others were carefully chosen journalists whose specialist knowledge the Department needed. It became a favourite resting place for MI6 people washed up at the end of their careers. Secrecy was so endemic that it was possible for someone to be recruited, as one ex-IRD worker told us with the idea that they were going to do research as the Department's title suggested. Relations with MI6 were close, particularly with section IX, which dealt with the Soviet Union. The IRD was represented at liaison meetings in London between MI6 and the CIA during most of its lifetime. The head of IRD between 1953 and 1958, John Rennie, was later head of MI6.
In its prime, during the fifties, the IRD staff numbered between three and four hundred - the Soviet section alone had sixty people working in it"

Ibid pp91-92

"IRD also took an interest in books as propaganda vehicle...a short series of books published by the small Ampersand company, at the initiative of the IRD...Ampersand was set up just after the war by ex-wartime intelligence officer, Leslie Sheridan, and Victor Cannon Brooks. In 1953, these two were joined by another director, Stephen Watts, who also had been in wartime intelligence. He would discuss titles with the heads of IRD before commissioning them."

Ibid p76

"Meanwhile, IRD was sponsoring the Background Books series (edited by Stephen Watts), first through Batchworth Press, then through Phoenix House until 1960 when Bodley Head became the publishers for the next decade. IRD'S method was to use Ampersand to buy Background Books from Bodley Head and, at the end of the year, to reimburse Ampersand for its outlay."

Ibid p97

"In the labour movement the Trades Union Congress was working with the newly-formed Foreign Office-based, political warfare executive, operating under cover as the Information Research Department (IRD), in an anti-communist drive."

The Clandestine Caucus, Robin Ramsay, p5, 1997

"The Democratic Revolution was part of a series called Background Books - a series conceived and subsidised, it now seems, by the Information Research Department of the Foreign Office. The IRD was "a secret department committed to a worldwide anti-Stalinist crusade"...A number of the Background Books authors had served in military intelligence. The editor of the series had been a wartime MI5 officer. And not only did the writers receive background briefing papers from IRD, but the organisation bought unsold Background Books, thereby effectively subsidising a series that might otherwise have fallen short of best seller status. All this might indeed make us wonder."

The Guardian, David Newnham , 16/12/94

"Secrecy does ultimately corrupt. The moral high ground a lost as soon as tactics used became no different from those of the Soviet propagandists. During the 1950s, while open information agencies contracted, the IRD expanded - with 60 staff alone in the Soviet section and, in all, 300 people by the middle of the decade. The department was also expanding its operations inside Britain.
Alleged communist front groups were attacked and conferences disrupted. Material was handed over to trade union anti-communist fronts such as the Industrial Research Information Service and Common Cause. Trade union and senior Labour Party officials were in receipt of briefings which, in the case of Labour, formed the back bone of its Proscribed List of organisations and was influenced in the selection of candidates.
The IRD also had a massive list of contacts, including journalists and academics who were in receipt of its briefing papers or ho wrote for one of its publishing outfits. In the 1950s and 1960s, the IRD had woven its propaganda web around "opinion-formers of every sort"

The Puppet Masters, Stephen Dorril, the Guardian, 18/8/95

"Roger Hesketh's father as approached to act as Monty's 'double'...but he turned it don. Gilbert Lennox of MI5 was asked by LCS to find a suitable candidate for the operation. He passed the task on to his assistant, Stephen Watts..."

MI5, Nigel West, p374, 1983

Bilateral intelligence relations between the United States and the United Kingdom include human intelligence, signals intelligence, and radio and television broadcast monitoring. The British-US Communications Intelligence Agreement of 1943 is still in force, and regulates the bilateral part of the British-US SIGINT relationship.
A second highly formalized arrangement consists of an agreement to divide up, geographically, the responsibility or monitoring public radio and television broadcasts - mainly news and public affairs broadcasts. The specific organization involved are the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Monitoring Service and the CIA's Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS). Together, those two organizations monitor most of the world's most significant news and other broadcasts. As noted, both the BBC Monitoring Service and the FBIS have a network of overseas stations, operated with varying degrees of secrecy to gather material.
Cooperation between the BBC Monitoring Service and the FBIS began in 1948, as an openly acknowledged arrangement. Thus, the BBC Annual Report for 1948-49 noted :
"There is close cooperation between the BBC's Monitoring Service and its American counterpart, The Foreign Broadcast Information Branch of the United States Central Intelligence Agency, and each of the two services maintained liaison units at each other's stations for the purpose of a full exchange of information."

The U.S. Intelligence Community, Jeffrey T. Richelson, pp274-5, 1989

Additional Note.
The main BBC monitoring station is located at Caversham. It is mainly financed by the Foreign and Commonealth Office, although the US also contributes to the cots. US staff are, as Richelson, note , stationed at Caversham. However, the Americans do not supply the British with all the information that the CIA/FBIS monitors

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